During all periods of my stay in Japan, I have always been blessed with warm-hearted Japanese friends. And many of them are at the age of my parents.
When I first came to Japan in 1996, I was welcomed by a Japanese lady, Mrs. Chie Miyamoto, who was a volunteer with the Fukuoka-Malaysia Friendship Association. She was close to a senior Malaysian student who taught the members of the association Malay language at that time. Miyamoto-san was a friendly but strict when it came to Japanese language and culture. Usually, Japanese people whom we met will just allow us speak Japanese our way, even if it was wrong. because they thought that we were still new, and we are not Japanese to get it all right. But not Miyamoto-san, she will comment on the smallest thing on my Japanese grammar, how I use the words and even on how I act on some occasions. I can still remember her scolding me for not finishing my meal. "Mottainai", she said, which means "what a waste". She told me in Japan, it is disgraceful to leave even a grain of rice in the bowl-disgraceful to the person who prepared the meal, and also disgraceful to the god's blessings.
Miyamoto-san was also the one who tipped me on the celebrities/VIPs who were coming to Fukuoka. With her efforts, I was selected as a translator for Erma Fatima & Eizlan Yusof team who came for Asian Film Festival in Fukuoka, I got to meet and guided Zaki Sadri, Watson Nyambek and other national athletes around town who were attending a trek competition, and talked to Anwar Ibrahim on the phone who stayed at a hotel in Fukuoka for an international conference.
However, when she moved to Tokyo, following her husband, I only got to meet her once after losing contact because I graduated and returned to Malaysia. I still do not know where she lives now, or her contact number, but I suppose she is still active assisting foreign students in Tokyo.
My second friend is Kaneko-san. I met him in Fukuoka too, just about the same timing I met Miyamoto-san. He used to live in Malaysia for about 2 years nearly 20years back, teaching in Miri, under JICA program. His love for Malaysia never changed since then, and until now he still assist Malaysia homestay program promotions in Japan. He was among the first persons I searched for when I returned to Japan for masters degree. What I like about him is that he understands the way we Malaysians think. One day, I got a phone call from him (he was in Malaysia on holidays) asking if he could stay a night at my mom's house in Melaka. Japanese would never do that, what's more if he/she is not a family member. Everybody home liked him, because he made sure his stay was not troublesome for the family by washing his own clothes, and mingle around well with everyone, including my grandfather.
Kaneko-san is also the first person who called me to ask my condition when the Iwate-Miyagi earthquake happened several months ago. He did not forget to wish me Hari Raya (which I myself nearly forgotten to do the same to my family..).
I do missed my family friends when I moved to Miyagi. However, here we were fortunate enough to get another family friend. He is Sato-san, the person I always mention in my previous postings. He is also about the same age as my mother, and he initially was my husband's co-worker. Now he has already retired from the company and established his own. He is so caring to all of us, and I think he regarded my children as his own grandchildren. He recommended Nani origamis instead of computer games, by buying her origami books and papers. He guided us to Zao, Yamagata and Soma on our holidays trip. And when I asked him about how much he bought his 210mm lense, the next day he gave me his 250mm lense for free. Other things he have given us, especially food are too many to be listed here. Even when I haven't moved here, he sent me 2 boxes of Japanese pears. He also the only person who helped us with house cleaning before moving out.
When I assure him our assistance in Malaysia, he said he will look after Nani when she comes again to Japan for further study. I once asked my husband why he treated us so well and he said that Sato-san told him when he was posted to Malaysia years back, someone kindly helped him when he was injured. That's why when he heard a Malaysian was posted to the company (my husband), he quickly approached and be good friends.
These people are only a part of the endless list of my Japanese friends. Befriending them is a blessing and something that would make my relations with the country inseparable.
Hope chances are there for me to come again and visit my friends of the country in the future. Till then, I will be waiting for them in Malaysia.